Some things, when you take the time to fully consider context, don't make any sense at all.
As an example, Adam Lee generously commits his time, talent, and treasure to many good causes. He has served on the boards of Maine Public Broadcasting, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Maine Audubon and Maine Conservation Voters. These are four vocal supporters of Big Wind (possibly because they are also FINANCIALLY SUPPORTED BY Big Wind). Whether he intended it or not, Mr. Lee’s philanthropy has promoted industrial wind complex development for the intended noble cause of reducing CO2 emissions.
He is also the biggest car salesman in Maine.
So Mr. Lee is closely tied to Maine's worst CO2 emissions source - Transportation. (According to the EPA, Maine's Transportation sector is responsible for almost 5 TIMES MORE CO2 than the Electricity Generation sector.)
Did anyone hear a peep from Mr. Lee and all those Big Wind cheerleading organizations two years ago when, without debate or even a single NO vote, the Legislature increased the speed limit on I-95?
Not that Mr. Lee is pro CO2 … in fact he has long called upon Congress to increase CAFE standards for car manufacturers. No, this is an ironic tale about lawmakers making ill-informed, misguided, feel-good policy decisions. Decisions that can have massive negative impacts.
New Legislature: Best Wishes, Hope, and a Request
Since 2007, Maine, for the noble cause of reducing CO2, has been falling all over itself spending more than a Billion dollars on mountain wind energy complexes (and spending a lot more on the transmission buildup).
This costly and unnecessary infrastructure adds essentially nothing to the grid, and it has not shown any reduction in CO2. Yet our profligate spending on ineffective wind energy has transpired while we've concurrently neglected critical energy infrastructure investments in gas pipelines and Canadian hydro. It felt good for a while, but now it is starting to sting.
Those two infrastructure deficiencies matter a lot. No, gas and hydro aren’t as cute as wind energy, but they work and we need them. They are clean. Affordable. And our neglect of them is now bleeding Billions from the New England economy via spiraling rates while adding insult to injury: we now are burning more oil and more coal, when only a few years ago we had essentially “gotten off of” oil and coal. This has clearly proven to be a grossly negligent and harmful misallocation of resources.
What not to do if we’re concerned about CO2
In the most recent year of EPA data (2012) Electricity Generation accounted for only 10.8% of Maine's CO2 emissions. But Transportation CO2 was responsible for a whopping 50.1% of Maine CO2 output. See the spreadsheet analysis of data downloaded from the EPA's website.
Click here to see how much more gasoline we burn (and how much more CO2 we belch out) when we drive at high speeds.
So Maine’s Transportation Sector is responsible for almost FIVE TIMES MORE CO2 than our Electricity Sector. Despite this fact, recent Maine Legislatures have rolled out every possible red carpet for expensive, unnecessary, unsustainable wind energy, which doesn’t move the needle. Yet two years ago Maine legislators unanimously passed a bill that raised highway speed limits. They didn’t even debate it!
If the roof on your house is caving in, buy a bird bath?
When in 2012, coal and oil combined were only 4% of New England electricity generation, and less than 1% of Maine generation, today our deficiencies in gas pipeline / Canadian hydro infrastructure result in coal and oil churning out 4 to 6 times more electricity, at great cost, and the dirty air blows to Maine. It's truly a lose-lose.
On most days this winter the grid operator’s ISO-NE dashboard shows that coal and oil are generating up to 20% of New England’s electricity. Because of our pipeline deficiency, natural gas is regularly being reduced from its usual 50% to as low as 30%. While this is happening, New England's $2 Billion wind "investment" is usually generating only about 1% of New England’s load, oftentimes when there is no demand.
So why are we going backwards?
Why are we increasing our reliance on the dirty expensive stuff? It is the result of our grossly negligent misallocation of resources. Spending Billions on wind infrastructure when we should have been planning for +5000 megawatts of coming power plant retirements. Base load and peak load plants that can only be replaced by firm generation (like gas and hydro). It's like a homeowner spending the paycheck on patio furniture when the roof is leaking.
The electricity sectors of only two states, Vermont and Idaho, emit less CO2 than Maine. Maine has the #1 highest Renewable Portfolio Standard in the nation. We’ve shown the world how to get off oil and coal. So let's stop beating ourselves up about "doing our part," fouling our wild areas with industrial wind complexes that are neither necessary nor useful, while bleeding Billions from our economy.
While a lot of people felt good (and a few people got rich) when Maine jumped headlong into wind energy, it has turned out to be a terribly misguided policy direction.
What can we do?
Friends of Maine’s Mountains urges the new Legislature to scrutinize feel-good proposals, to think critically over the next two years, and to work for sensible policies that benefit our environment and our economy.